Scuba-diving classes for disabled veterans, including certification classes, are funded by a number of organizations.
One of them, the Bob Woodruff Foundation, provided funding via the Air Warrior Courage Foundation and the San Antonio River Rats for veteran Tim Mithofer’s open-water certification.
Mithofer battles post-traumatic stress disorder and constant pelvic pain from injuries he sustained in 2008 in Iraq where he was serving as an Army intelligence analyst and combat engineer. The River Rats also paid for Mithofer’s wife, Becky, and then-12-year-old daughter, Rachel, to become certified, in 2009.
“It was real important that my wife be supportive, and she understands how much I love it,” says Mithofer, who lives near San Antonio, in Cibolo.
The River Rats—a chapter of the River Valley Fighter Pilots Association—sponsored one of Mithofer’s recent diving trips and have provided scuba-diving training for more than 180 disabled veterans.
The River Rats receive grants from the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which was co-founded by television reporter Bob Woodruff, who was seriously injured covering the Iraq war in 2006. The foundation provides resources and support to injured service members.
Under the tutelage of John Duggan, the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio also helps disabled veterans get in the water. Under the umbrella of the physical rehabilitation center, Duggan teaches scuba-diving classes at nearby Fort Sam Houston. And through his diving shop, Duggan Diving, he helps disabled veterans get their open-water certification.
Another well-known name in the diving world, Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba (SUDS), a privately funded nonprofit organization, is a chapter of the Wounded Warrior/Disabled Sports Project and is based at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Founder John Thompson, a dive instructor, says SUDS has helped several hundred injured veterans learn to dive since it started in 2007.